By Kate Henshaw
Two dates always cause me to be melancholy, Nigeria’s Independence and Democracy day. I reflect on how many years we have been in existence as a nation, and how many leaders we have had who have promised to lead us out of Egypt, and into a land flowing with milk and honey… .It is over 50 years; at the very least half of a human being’s lifetime on earth. If at this age, one is yet to chew strong meat with well formed teeth but continues to feed from a bottle then more is the pity.
Picture the scenario where a group of friends go to the same school right from nursery to university and then they all graduate and seek their fortunes in the world but there is one of them who just seems to be at the bottom of the ladder in terms of advancement and success in life; he/she is quite brilliant and was given all the opportunity to make something of his/her life but just squandered away every opportunity.
The other friends had always looked up to this particular “person” and cannot seem to fathom why the ground is the preferred place of habitation. Soon they tire and move on, recording tremendous successes in their lives, never once looking back at this under-developed friend of theirs.
This is the situation we find ourselves as a country, Nigeria, with regards to our neighbours and friends, Ghana, Togo, Cameroun, Gambia, Kenya,etc. We used to be the country that was respected, our passport was the one to hold and our nation was the premium exporter of goods, now we have to rely on cassava bread to keep hunger away. It is ironic but hardly surprising. Majority of Nigerians are unruly and impatient.
The leader we seek will come from amongst us and not descend from the clouds. Going by the way we drive on our roads, circumvent whatever laws that are supposed to govern our existence, easily take each other’s lives, steal , fail to plan for our future, and simply lack respect for each other as human beings, do we then wonder why we are receding into the background or seem to be stagnant?
We have caused ourselves so much hardship, pain and unnecessary deaths all in the name of policies that do not augur well for the citizenry . A few have taken hold of this nation by the jugular and the majority are being choked to death.
Be it strikes, subsidy removal, boko haram, Niger delta militancy, non- existence of good hospitals, qualitative institutions of learning, non- payment of meagre minimum wage to civil servants, squandering and massive pilfering of pension funds, insecurity, corrupt and unashamed public servant-looters, appalling roads and the utter dearth of the welfare of the masses, we have suffered them all and still are.
Government policies when put forward are meant to further the viable course of its people’s existence but when these same policies are nothing but a rope around the people’s necks then it should be a cause for concern.
A government that despite mechanisms it has put in place to stamp out corruption sees that this monster has taken on a life of its own, should look inwards. Solemn soul searching is needed and there is really no cause for celebration. It is imperative that we find a lasting solution to pertinent national issues. It is not a case of one political party being better than the other as all have sinned and fallen short of glory.
Lack of morals, shamelessness and impunity is the order of the day. This is the reality of the Nigeria we live in today. I am doubtful of the younger generation as before their very eyes they have seen people who have committed serious crimes walk the streets freely as if nothing happened and even celebrated. What message are we sending across to the future generation?
That it is okay to be an under achiever, it is ok to be dull and lack lustre, it’s ok to be greedy, it is ok not to have any ideas of your own, it is ok to be lazy because once you get into a political position, you are immune from whatever hardship plagues the ordinary man on the streets and you owe no-one no explanation for your actions.
Nigeria is grouped among the 20 poorest countries in the world,and the 30th least developed country in Sub-Saharan Africa. We as a people are not doing enough to repel bad governance and corrupt leadership which have made it difficult for the country to reach its full potential. We remain gullible in the face of policies that enrich the pockets of a minority.
Those who lead us should imbibe our pledge; I pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal and honest, to serve Nigeria with all my strength, to defend her unity and to uphold her honour and glory, so help me God. Let us the passengers in this vehicle called Nigeria, keep an eye on the driver who will take us to our destination, Democracy. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our children’s’ children.